There’s a question rolling around on the edges of my mind, and I want to ask it – let it loose into the ether and see what comes back.
Q: Why do people equate freedom with riches?
Freedom is about choice, about having choices. Hence: two free learners – one chooses to apply him/herself and does as well as the system will allow, the other doesn’t and simply fails. Freedom is only a guarantee of potential, not fulfilment. And, while I fully understand that many areas in SA don’t yet have the tools/structure/skills to offer bona fide choices, surely the provision of these basic tools must get as much of our focus?
Why is this an important question?
Because, while people tie freedom to riches, it stands to reason that the more cars a man owns, that must mean he is more free. And the more shoes a woman has, that is a sign that she’s freer than someone like me with fewer shoes.
I know, it sounds crazy – because it is crazy.
The Beatles sang that money can’t buy you love – well, it sure doesn’t buy you freedom. It does get you more choices, absolutely. And a full belly, great feathers, a couple of paid-up nests, but not freedom guaranteed. You could still make all the wrong choices that tie you into debt, crime or addiction = total loss of personal freedom.
In fact, this weird freedom=riches equation has probably led to an incredible amount of debt misery as South Africans attempt to get all the trappings of “freedom” – only to discover that they’re firmly bound by debt, and hence radically unfree.
And what about crime – when people attempt to grasp more ‘freedom’ down the barrel of a gun?
How can running and hiding from the law, constantly looking over your shoulder for the auditor who’s going to bust your tender scheme, or waiting for the dreaded day when your offices are surrounded by a dancing mob asking for your resignation: how can this possibly be equated with freedom?
People are prepared to lay down their lives for freedom because it’s supposed to bring dignity, choice, safety, independence and peace.
The strange coupling of profit to freedom has completely perverted and derailed it – we’ve become a nation of whisperers, plotters, protestors, bullies, killers, grifters and spin-doctors.
And as we do it, we’re building a new prison for ourselves, one crap choice at a time.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, …” Janis was right: bondage is when you have too much to lose… it makes cowards of the comfortable.